China wants 5 mn hybrid electric vehicles on the road by 2020

China, the world’s largest auto market, wants to put 5 million hybrids and electric vehicles (EV) on the road between now and 2020, the government said on Wednesday, in the latest update of its green vehicle target.

A green vehicle development plan approved by China’s State Council, also set the cumulative output level of such vehicles at the same level by 2020, according to a brief statement on the central government’s website.

That compared with the 1 million 2020 EV output goal put forward by China’s science and technology minister Wan Gang in October 2010. Other officials had said they wanted to have half a million EVs on the road by then.

Beijing has been pushing electric car industry with hefty subsidies. The government had also pledged to invest 100 billion yuan ($15.87 billion) to shore up the fledgling industry by 2020.

Sales have been dismal due to high battery costs and lack of charging facilities.

Output of hybrids and EVs came to merely 8,368 last year, with sales at 8,159, including those for government pilot programmes for e-taxis and e-buses, official data showed.

China saw sales of 14.5 million cars in 2011. The country’s car market declined 1.3 percent in the first quarter, on the slowing economy and higher fuel prices.

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